William Tyler and band opened tonight’s show. an ex-member of The Silver Jews and Lambchop, William’s solo career is now three album’s old and tonight’s set showcases this year’s ‘Modern Country’ LP. Instrumental tunes that really warmed the crowd up in fine style.
Wilco hit the stage just before 9pm for their two hour set to wind up their latest Euro tour.
‘Normal American Kids’ seemed an apt show opener and the first of six songs from new album ‘Schmilco’ ‘If I Ever was a Child’ and ‘Cry All Day’ totalled a three new songs opener which, with the very effective forest like stage set that turned 3D with the lighting, had the audience’s full attention from the off.
This was a career spanning show, six songs also from ‘Yankee Hotel Foxtrot’ as well as visits to numerous other album’s including ‘Box Full of Letters’ from ‘AM’. Hard to nominate standout songs because the set was just superb start to finish but, classics like,' Via Chicago' , 'Bull Black Nova', 'Impossible Germany' and 'Misunderstood' were really special.
Surely still one of the best bands in the world out there for live shows, you are never short changed. Long may they roll!
Normal American Kids
If I Ever Was a Child
Cry All Day
I Am Trying to Break Your Heart
Art of Almost
Someone to Lose
Pot Kettle Black
Bull Black Nova
We Aren't the World (Safety Girl)
Box Full of Letters
Heavy Metal Drummer
I'm the Man Who Loves You
The Late Greats
Random Name Generator
A Shot in the Arm
Many fans had travelled for the show and we had a very nice pre-gig meet up in the Foggy Dew. As a result we did not quite get front row, but we made it into the Olympia's mini pit. This was the first show of a considerable UK & Ireland tour, and I was a little disappointed that there was no new stage backdrop and that it all looked the same as the last tour. Minor quibble. The new merch is very nice however so, a hoodie :)
I liked support act Esme Patterson. She reminded me a bit of Anna Calvi. I had hoped that her presence on the tour might mean that 'Silent key' would get played (as she does the female vocal on the studio version), but not as of yet.
When you see a band repeatedly there are songs that you never get tired of, songs that you feel could be given a rest and songs that hit you anew for some reason. And for every fan they will be different songs. For me, 'Long live the queen', 'If ever I stray' and 'The way I tend to be' are songs I always love hearing. I could do without 'Wessex boy' and 'The road' (but on the plus side he has finally dropped 'Peggy...' and 'Glory hallelujah'). Standouts for me were the punchy full band version of 'Love forty down', 'The opening act of spring' (still my favourite off the last album) and 'Hits & Mrs', with a kazoo playing couple from the audience guesting. Frank introduced it as a song he rarely plays, yet somehow I think I have caught it four times so far. Lovely song.
Frank's solo section halfway through the show is generally where the surprises come. He played the aforementioned 'Hits & Mrs' and 'Redemption' as requests. I resigned myself to the fact that I was not going to get my request. Oh well.
The main section ended with 'Photosynthesis' and then Frank returned on his own for the encore. One introductory strum of the guitar and I realized he was about to play 'Balthazar impresario'. I got my moment in the sun and the people in front of me let me stand on the barrier for this one. I have had requests granted before ('Pancho and Lefty', 'Cowboy chords') but this one was definitely special. I hope I can get a recording of it.
We went for something to eat after the show and as we were heading back towards the Foggy Dew we saw a small group of people in the lane way beside the Olympia. Frank was still out there meeting and greeting so we got the chance to say hello.
All in all a great evening and as this was only night one of the tour there is plenty more to look forward to.
If you go down to the woods today...you may find some unlikely wild life. It all started like this ..I saw the Membranes at the wonderful Seachange festival at Totnes, and afterwards chatted with their striking, erudite and approachable front man, John Robb. John is well known as a music journalist, writer and BBC pundit, so we talked about music, until I made chance mention of one of my other interests – I am an ecologist and for 25 years have been leading wildlife tours, mainly for educational charity the ACE Foundation; I was just about to head off to Albania. John said’ Why didn’t you mention this earlier?
All the band are really interested in nature and science!’ Indeed the highly acclaimed Membranes comeback album is called Dark Matter/Dark Energy, and features interviews with CERN scientists along with tracks called The Universe Explodes into a Billion Photons of Pure White Light and catchy rock single Do the Supernova. More to these guys than meets the eye ..which is saying something, as they have a strikingly powerful stage show and look amazing. So, one thing led to another, and we agreed that when they next played near me, I would take them on some kind of nature excursion.
Turns out they were playing Norwich Sound and Vision festival in October, and I was around then. We made a plan to meet at a café in Thetford Forest, on the way to Norwich, and on the appointed day I set off early to figure out an interesting route. I had once years ago seen evidence of red deer rutting near here .. and October is the peak time. So I checked the site, with no real expectations of success...but on approaching I heard the eerie cow-like wail of a male red deer in full testosterone flow, the largest native British land mammal. I watched several stags and lots of hinds for some hours, including two subordinate males who attempted to mate with each other. Then it was time to get the band!
Everyone was as excited as I was, and asked lots of probing questions. The leather jackets, quiffs, DMs and brothel creepers looked slightly out of place, but only just; all dark colours, so good camouflage. There was a lovely mood, all laughing and joking at the weirdness of the occasion until hushed into silence as we approached the rutting grounds.
First we heard them, and had a whispered discussion about using the roaring on the next album. Then we saw the first distant hinds...then a proud male posing with head up. We watched and took photos through my telescope, slowly inching forward. To my surprise two stags actually came towards us! Craning their necks to make us out, as we must have looked like a strange multi-headed leather creature hunched together over the scope.
Everyone could have stayed there all day, but sadly soundchecks beckoned. I mentioned never having found a shed antler...and on return we found one, which the lads insisted I kept. Instant karma! Later at the Owl Sanctuary (great venue, though no sign of owls) the Membranes headlined a great gig, and I got even more rewards.
John asked the crowd if they had any questions for Viv Albertine, whom he was interviewing next day. A less than serious reply ‘What is the Latin name of the heron?’ Rob the drummer shouted ‘ Can we phone a friend? Where’s Kevin?’ and with some difficulty I dragged ‘Ardea cinerea’ out of my memory and shouted it back. A discussion on Latin names of birds ensued ..as I said, not your average band.
At the end of the night I got a signed poster, with cartoon stags and guitarist Pete adding ‘Thanks Kevin, you’re a deer!’. It was agreed that all future band riders should include wildlife experiences. My next challenge is to find badgers for them and the Nightingales (how appropriate!) at their Brighton gig in Feb 2017.
And what we saw through the ‘scope...
A cold damp Tuesday night in Nottingham is about to become warm, cozy and enthralling in the company of two very accomplished outfits.
Rock City is pretty much full (not sure why they did not open the balcony) tonight and the first band on are Submotion Orchestra, a Seven piece formed in Leeds in 2009.
With an expansive, ambient and dreamy sound, the venue is quickly enveloped in the band’s warm glow. New Album ‘Colour Theory’ provides the base for the 50 minute set which if there are new listeners present, they must be checking out the band further as we write.
The Cinematic Orchestra do not tour that much and recent live dates have been in London and major cities, so a regional tour is most welcome.
The Cinematic Orchestra formed in1999 by Jason Swinscoe are a band that to me that evoke memories of Jazz legends, Weather Report but, with added vocals from singers, Tawiah and Hedi Vogel that just melt your heart this takes their songs to a new level. New song ‘To Believe’ is a prime example. This is actually the first new material for a while and with the tour and the evident tightness of the band, this all bodes well for more activity soon.
A string intro started the show, as the band eased into ‘Burn Out’ and really warmed up with ‘Child Song’ and ‘J Bird’.
‘The Reveal’ is a stunning song, but by this time the people with 2 pint glasses are becoming decidedly chatty which, takes the edge off the mid section of the set until nature calls and they don’t return!
‘Flite’, ‘Breathe’ and ‘Man with a Movie Camera’ end the main set superbly and there is still a 3 song encore to come.
We can cope with whatever winter throws at us with warm musical nights like this.
Eye for an I
Man with the Movie Camera
To Build a Home
Ode to the Big Sea
All That You Give
We've all been in a part-filled music venue which claimed to be “SOLD OUT” for the sake of good PR for the band, haven't we. Tonight as I walk up the stairs to the Main Hall at Rock City there are people standing in the doorway to the entrance it's rammed, there are 2,500 here tonight to see local heroes/ anti-heroes/ superheroes Sleaford Mods. Andrew Fearn (laptop, blue 'Still Hate Thatcher' shirt, and bottled beer), and Jason Williamson (machine-gun style vitriolic vocals, plain black shirt and bottled water) walk on stage to a heroes welcome.
Tonight's show is a mix of old faves and new stuff from the 'TCR' E.P. 'I Can Tell' and the title track (the cleaned up version of which has been getting air play on 6Music) get played early in the set. 'Face to Faces', 'Fizzy' and 'Giddy On The Ciggies' get the largely male and young moshpit going down the front.
Mid song something gets thrown towards Jason, at the end of the song he addresses the transgressor “I am not Tony Stark, I am made of flesh. If you throw things at me and I go down you have wasted ten pounds. Hit the b*****d” In spite of that incident the mood is celebratory, the band seem genuinely overjoyed with the audience's reaction “Just remember you didn't come to see us tonight, we came here to see you. We love you Nottingham” as they finish the main set.
The three track encore begins with the rattling intro to 'Jobseeker' over which Jason ad-libs a couple of lines from Bad Manners' 'Lip Up Fatty'.'Tied Up in Nottz' ignites the Catherine Wheel circle pit and rockets of beer fountains and keeps the bouncers busy attempting to repel the stage invaders one of whom gets through and takes an impressive dive back into the crowd at the climax of the song.
The lack of a traditional song structure, the minimal deep bass beats from Andrew's laptop and Jason's impressive machine-gun style vocal rattle sit uneasily with some, but as a band willing to shine a light at the absurdity and general dissatisfaction many feel in life they are a vital British band.